Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not Christian but very religious

About five years after America’s Civil War ended, 1870, the majority of American Protestants were of the strong opinion that America was a Christian nation. Skeptics and non-Christians had another view, but there was in the nineteenth century indications that the Protestant majority carried the day.

Christian groups and individuals founded the first ten colleges for the training of preachers and teachers. It was a time of revivalism with the Baptists, Methodist, Presbyterians and splinter groups taking the lead evangelism in the expanding frontier.

Out of these spiritual awakenings came the evangelicals’ courage to declare that America was God’s special gift to the world. From the black slaves came the sense of this being the Promised Land. They related deeply with Moses as he lead the Hebrew slaves out of bondage. This grew out of the African-Americans knowing personally the horror of slavery.

The Civil War revealed the 200 years of slavery was inhumane and not in the long-term interest of the nation. England had outlawed the slave trade nearly a half-century earlier. The misery and agony of the war seemed to justify the spurts of revival services in the cities as well as the growing frontier. Suffering of the war was seen, by some, as a result of having strayed from the path God planned for “His” country.

Isaiah, the Old Testament prophet, had stressed that a Holy God demanded a Holy people. The nation had to be pure for Christianity had proven to be the purist of religions (in their own eyes). The Old Testament was filled with examples of what happened to the nation that forgets God. It was at the heart of the Bible-exhorting evangelist’s message. Awakenings broke out during as in the days of New England’s Jonathan Edwards.

Being a leading nation with Christians of all stripes does not make a Christian nation. For those who want The Ten Commandments and other biblical rules and guides to replace the system we now have, are hopeless cases. Those having little knowledge of church history go blindly on their way, thinking they are bringing in God's Kingdom. Just a few hundred years Christianity was declared legal and even made the law of the Eastern and later Western church powers, its spiritually began to die. Power of government leadership was not in our Lord's plans. REMEMEBER: The church is just to be a holding pattern until the Kingdom of God is manifested in the return of Jesus the Christ to earth.

Though most television evangelists are the most outspokenly misled and misleading anyone who listens to their stuff, they are not alone in wanting a Christian American nation. I must be blunt here: such bad interpretation of scripture and purpose of gathering for worship is sadly lacking in this kind of thinking. It is not in the cards to lift the Declaration of Independence to biblical status and attach the Jewish law and Jesus' sayings as equal guide for any nation.